CANADA FX DEBT-C$ hits near 3-week low ahead of BoC rate decision this week

    * Canadian dollar weakens 0.1 percent against the greenback
    * Price of U.S. oil rises 1.9 percent
    * Canadian bond prices trade mixed across the yield curve

    By Fergal Smith
    TORONTO, March 4 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar weakened to
its lowest in nearly three weeks against its U.S. counterpart on
Monday, after weak domestic data on Friday pointed to Bank of
Canada patience this week on further interest rate hikes.
    At 9:49 a.m. (1449 GMT), the Canadian dollar          was
trading 0.1 percent lower at 1.3302 to the greenback, or 75.18
U.S. cents. The currency touched its weakest level since Feb. 14
at 1.3324.
    Canada's economic growth slowed more than expected in the
fourth quarter to a 0.4 percent annualized pace on plunging
Canadian crude oil export prices, data on Friday showed,
underpinning market expectations that the Bank of Canada will
not hike interest rates on Wednesday.
    The data "will only serve to reinforce the Bank's cautious
tone," Benjamin Reitzes, Canadian rates & macro strategist at
BMO Capital Markets, said in a research note.
    The Bank of Canada may be closer to a policy turning point,
as it is still set to hike its key interest rate once more later
this year but there is now a small chance of a cut, according to
economists polled by Reuters.             
    The price of oil was buoyed by OPEC output cuts and reports
that the United States and China were inching closer to a deal
on a trade dispute that has slowed global economic growth. U.S.
crude oil futures        were up 1.9 percent at $56.87 a barrel.
    Canada exports many commodities, including oil, so its
economy could benefit from an improved outlook for global trade.
    Speculators have cut their bearish bets on the Canadian
dollar, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission
and Reuters calculations showed on Friday. As of Feb. 19, net
short positions had fallen to 36,437 contracts from 37,537 in
the prior week.
    Canadian government bond prices were mixed across the yield
curve, with the two-year            up 0.5 Canadian cent to
yield 1.763 percent and the 10-year             falling 1
Canadian cent to yield 1.939 percent.
    Canada's trade data for December is due on Wednesday and the
February employment report is due on Friday.

 (Reporting by Fergal Smith; editing by Jonathan Oatis)